The total number of publicly reported data breaches increased 44 percent between 2016 and 2017. High profile attacks, such as the Equifax breach, have shown that even the largest organizations face significant cybersecurity challenges. Ransomware is involved in 12.4 percent of these attacks, and businesses are more frequently finding themselves on the receiving end of this type of malware.

Data Protection

Data loss has a significant short and long-term impact on your business. If you don’t have a proper backup and recovery plan in place, you immediately have to deal with unplanned downtime. You bring in resources and staff on an emergency basis, which increases your expenses substantially.

Cybersecurity specialists have to come in to do a complete audit of your infrastructure so you can pinpoint how the breach happened. If you don’t close the hole, it’s only a matter of time before you end up in this situation again.

The typical cost per record lost is $141 in 2017. Small businesses may face a six-figure bill or higher, depending on the type of data involved in the attack. The cash flow disruption is disastrous for operations at best and could lead to the business shutting down at worst.

Lawsuits from clients and customers also put a strain on your resources following a data breach. Legal fees, settlements, and the reputation loss can change the course of your business practically overnight.

Consumer trust and goodwill are difficult to build up in the first place. Trying to regain it after they have to cancel debit and credit cards, put credit freezes in place, switch passwords and otherwise get inconvenienced is even more challenging. People still bring up Target’s big data breach, and that tarnished reputation plays a role in consumer purchase decisions.

Network Best Practices

The good news is that having a proper network configuration in place, supported by quality cybersecurity plans and procedures, goes a long way towards thwarting hackers and other bad actors trying to steal your data.

For example, the large-scale breach at Equifax was caused by a basic failure of following cybersecurity best practices. You don’t want to overlook the possibility of more sophisticated types of attacks, but when you prevent lower-level problems, you have more resources to deal with these threats.

Network security professionals are difficult to come by in this competitive job market. While you may have some in-house IT security talent, partnering with an IT company offers several benefits. Their hands-on experience with many types of business networks and outside perspective complement your in-house efforts. They can work together to ensure that you have the right network security for your organization’s needs.

The right policies, plans and procedures also support your efforts by promoting cybersecurity at all levels of the organization. Everyone has a user account, email address and other potential attack vectors. When staff members outside of the IT department have cybersecurity friendly policies, the risk of falling victim to phishing and social engineering goes down.

It also helps promote a company culture that values these measures as a way to keep the organization safe from a devastating data breach. When there’s a real risk of an attack making it impossible for the organization to stay in business, getting everyone involved is important.

Automated processes, such as enforced password changes and deactivation of ex-employee user accounts, are two of many measures that can happen in the background to keep things safer.

Network Compliance

Government mandates and regulations such as HIPAA, DFARS, FISMA and PCI have specific network security requirements and guidelines. If your organization fails to meet these standards, it could face major consequences. For example, HIPAA fines can exceed $1 million for civil penalties and sometimes involve criminal charges.

A lack of compliance can severely disrupt your organization’s ability to do business and may cause legal trouble as well. Trying to keep up with changing requirements is a full-time job that’s difficult to manage for in-house teams that already have a lot on their plate. An IT company offers an excellent resource for keeping up with this information, whether you just need a consultation or help overhauling your compliance measures.

Skilled Cyber Security Team

Whether you’re partnering with an external IT company or working with your own in-house team, it’s essential that you have proper professionals equipped with the right tools. Their role is to monitor, detect, analyze, remediate and report threats to a company’s information systems. A quality cybersecurity team can make the difference before, during and after an attack.

Cyber security is not a role that any tech-savvy professional can simply step into. The background, training and mindset require a particular type of IT person. You won’t always have that combination available from your in-house IT department, and going without is not an option in today’s business environment.

Your organization faces many threats from cyber attackers, but the right defensive measures can make a big difference in your outcomes. From putting a backup and recovery plan in place to getting support from IT services, you can put yourself in a good position to protect your business network.